Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Cheap Ride to Another World

Last night my colleague here in Xian asked me if I wanted to see Avatar after work, as she had two movie coupons. We decided to check it out and went to a movie theatre west of Zhonglou or the Bell Tower in a fancy shopping mall. And we were able to use the two movie coupons for which she had paid 30RMB ($4.39) each and redeem them for Avatar tickets worth 80RMB ($11.71) each. They were probably the cheapest Avatar tickets in China.

The theatre is small, but we settle in with our heavy 3D glasses on. People continue to talk as the movie starts, but soon there are oohs and ahhs from the audience at seeing the images projected towards them.

However, I was surprised to see the movie was dubbed in Mandarin without any Chinese subtitles, except for when the Na'vi people speak their own language. It was really strange seeing Sigourney Weaver speaking better Mandarin than me. I had expected the movie to be in English with Chinese subtitles, but now the dubbing probably explains why the movie's debut in China was delayed. Nevertheless I understood most of what was going on as it's an action movie, but am still foggy on the details of the plot...

After watching the film I can see why many Chinese related to the storyline of people being forcibly evicted from their homes for demolition by greedy real estate developers and also the helplessness some Uighurs and Tibetans feel in their fight for some kind of independence.

Overall it was a fantastic movie that did transport viewers to another world. While the plot is almost predictable, the visual effects were stunning and shows how advanced computer imagery has developed.

Just before the movie came out in China, a Chinese blogger had doubts over which mountain director James Cameron based Hallelujah Mountain on in the movie. Cameron had said that he had modeled it after Huangshan Mountain in Anhui Province and had instructed his crew to take pictures of it to later recreate in space.

But the blogger claimed that Hallelujah Mountain in Avatar is actually called the South Pillar of Heaven in Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province, and posted pictures of it next to a still of the film.

The fuss over exactly which mountain was used didn't catch on and really why? A particular mountain may be an inspiration for a movie, but it doesn't mean that it has to look exactly the same. This is what artists of all mediums have been doing for centuries.

Nevertheless, my colleague and I were thrilled not only to be able to see Avatar in 3D, but also for a bargain price. So despite the roundabout trip I made coming to Xian, the cold showers and lack of napkins in restaurants, sometimes there are good things about being in a Second Tier city.


ks said...

congrat to james cameron for winning the golden globe's best picture of the year with avatar. i think he deserved it.

gg said...

here we pay $15 to see the movie.